I get this question now as the book gets out. Why spend time writing a book on dating? I wrote this book for three big reasons.
1. It’s Frightening
The first reason is frightening. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, married couples now make up less than half of American households. Less than half. Something in our intimate relationships is going very wrong, and has been going very wrong for a very long while. As American marriages crumble, everyone suffers. Even the Christian Church folk, who might like to think that they are above all that, are participants.
My experience as a pastor, and a friend, has taught me that the seeds of a marriage’s disintegration or its dynamism are planted at its very beginning. I’ve watched many people get married and go on to bliss or bitterness, or something in between. And I have seen what makes the difference between growing glee or gathering gall as romance springs up. So this book focuses on that start of a relationship, when people are dating and deciding about marriage.
2. It’s critical
The second reason for the book is that the median age of getting married rose by over seven years in the last four decades. In other words, more and more people feel unready to marry until three quarters of a decade later than before. They struggle to find the equipment for marriage. And when these people do finally marry, far more now end in divorce. These facts belie a profound lack of preparation for the experience of matrimony.
So, we need help in getting ready. I focus the reader’s attention on how to date for marriage (Part I), how to tell if you are ready to date and marry (Part III), and the most important question of the process, how to tell you are marrying the right one for you (Part II). In fact, the book’s original title was, Is This One THE One?, because the book really helps the reader make the dangerous decision about matrimony. When considering your particular girlfriend or boyfriend, how can you make the decision with confidence? But that title got changed because it struck some as suggesting some singular soul-mate out there, and only one, with whom you could be happy. This way of thinking is not helpful. So, to avoid misunderstanding, we relegated that phrase to the section headings and chose a more direct title: Dating with Discernment.
3. It’s personal
The third, really the biggest, impetus for getting this counsel down on paper has two names: Veronica and Enoch. I have two children now swimming in the dating waters. My daughter has been dating for several years and my son recently began. The sorry statistics sounded a loud alarm in this father’s chest. So much of their future hangs on how they conduct themselves in this most vulnerable life moment. How to date, who to date, how to decide it is a relationship to pursue. I wanted them to have the best counsel I could muster to navigate this uncertain sea. So, in fact, Dating with Discernment is what my heart wanted to say to them. If you read it, you are simply listening in.
To my great joy, both of their current dates are reading the book and discussing it with them. It is providing a touchstone for meaningful conversation.
Look out here in the days ahead for a special deal coming from the publisher about the book.